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Crew aching for a goal against second-place Orlando City

Apr 2, 2022; Columbus, Ohio, USA; Columbus Crew defender Milos Degenek (5) knocks the ball away from Nashville SC forward C.J. Sapong (17) in the first half at Lower.com Field. Mandatory Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Greg Bartram-USA TODAY Sports

Orlando City will head to Ohio looking to take advantage of the struggling Columbus Crew on Saturday.

A 1-0 victory over the Chicago Fire on last Saturday lifted Orlando City (3-2-2, 11 points) into second place in the Eastern Conference, five points behind the Philadelphia Union.

The goal was by Austrian forward Ercan Kara, the first of the designated player’s MLS career after being held scoreless in six matches.

It was a relief to Orlando coach Oscar Pareja.

“The forwards depend on goals, and it was very important that Ercan was able to score his first goal with the club,” Pareja said. “It should give him more boost in confidence and we hope that can be the start of a scoring streak, so we can count on his presence on the final third.”

The Crew (2-2-2, 8 points) would take a goal from anybody at this stage. After tallying four goals in the season opener, the defending champions have watched their production decline from three goals, to two and then to one in three March games. Now they are coming off consecutive 1-0 defeats.

Crew coach Caleb Porter wants his forwards to be more ruthless and physical.

“We do need to have some training sessions where guys are getting bloodied a little bit and we’re battling a little bit more,” he said. “I think that will potentially help us in moments. The accountability needs to be there.

“The attackers need to be a little more disappointed because they’ve got to find goals for us. Otherwise, we’re going to be falling short here and I’m going to be losing my job.”

Columbus hasn’t gone three straight MLS matches without scoring since a stretch in June and July of 2019 that included a 2-0 home loss to Orlando City.

That was Orlando’s only win in Columbus in six games (1-4-1).

“I think we can’t allow ourselves to lose another game at home,” Crew defender Milos Degenek said. “We can’t allow ourselves to be on a negative run. We have to turn this around, and we will turn this around.”

–Field Level Media